The First Amendment’s wording remains the same, but the world of free speech online is constantly changing. Last week, the Ninth Circuit issued an important new opinion about the First Amendment protections applicable to bloggers.

If you’re interested in free speech, the First Amendment, or media law, you should attend Above the Law’s inaugural Attorney@Blog conference. One of the nation’s preeminent First Amendment litigators, Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon, will deliver opening remarks. And then I will moderate a panel on free speech online, featuring the following distinguished panelists:

The panel will discuss emerging free speech issues and offer practical advice on how to avoid legal pitfalls online. If you’re a media lawyer, a journalist, a blogger, or just someone interested in these topics, you should definitely attend.

For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. CLE credit will be available, and early bird pricing remains in effect until February 1. We look forward to seeing you on March 14.

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the L

In my previous article for this column, I wrote about using the four P’s as a framework to facilitate a productive dialogue during the first meeting with a prospective lateral, and discussed the first P, your firm’s PLATFORM. You can read that article here.

The four P’s are:

1. Platform
2. Practice
3. People
4. Potential

PRACTICE: After giving an overview of your firm, start drilling down on specific variables related to the firm’s practice group that is interested in the partner you are pursuing.

As you discuss the practice group, use this format:

1. Current status
2. The practice group’s value proposition
3. Client development
4. Potential synergies

Current Status: Some firms want to add bench strength to an already established group. Others want to build a new practice group from scratch because of a void in the office. Both situations have advantages and can be attractive, depending on the career itch and motivation of the partner. Communicate this status and vision with the executive recruiter you have retained to make sure that candidates are prescreened with realistic expectations for this issue. Make a credible and attractive pitch. If you have yet to build out this group, explain the background behind not having it. If you lost a group, tell the story in a truthful way that makes sense and is still attractive to your prospect. “The niche within their practice was better served at a different law firm, so we were sad to see them go but can understand why they left and we wish them well.”

The Practice Group’s Value Proposition: What is unique about this practice group? Think through attributes that are unique on both a professional and personal level and articulate a message that is relevant and compelling. What are some key trends that you see within your clients’ industry that give your practice an edge based on this uniqueness? For example, suppose that a regulatory agency is increasing its pursuit of noncompliant corporations. The fact that your partner worked at that agency five years prior gives this practice group a competitive advantage. Or the trend within litigation in a particular industry is in alignment with your partner’s previous career in that industry. Try to connect the uniqueness with trends, external variables, and the demand for your firm’s services.

Client development: Share stories of how demand from clients can help grow the practice of the partner you are trying to attract. Discuss what your partners have done to develop and reinforce a brand based on their rainmaking efforts, such as speaking at conferences and getting published, to help capture this demand. How does the entry point for business in that area coincide with the strengths of the partner you are considering? How could the particular niche expertise of that prospective lateral serve as a catalyst to uncover new client development opportunities?

Potential synergies: The word ‘synergy’ is one of the most overused words in describing law firm recruiting and management, but it certainly is a critical word. This is what everyone is looking for. Look for a convergence between at least two or three variables that, when combined, would result in leverage to accomplish goals. Each law firm leader must answer this question that is in the mind of a prospective lateral through the whole process: “How will this move mitigate my risk and improve my condition?” This requires knowledge of the practice group, so if you are the managing partner or hiring partner and are not a part of the group that is looking to grow, it helps to have domain knowledge of the biographies and strengths of the partners in that group. How do the strategies of related practice groups, industry trends, and the group’s value proposition converge into potential demand for this prospective lateral’s expertise?

PEOPLE: Think of four ways to describe the ‘people’ aspect of your firm and the practice group:

1. Legends
2. Heroes
3. New Players
4. Key Supporters

Legends are those mature partners who, not necessarily serving in a leadership role, are instrumental in shaping the group’s brand.

Heroes are those who have won high profile cases or achieved significant success within the group.

New Players are partners who have joined your firm in the last two to five years. They will have a highly credible voice when they talk specifically about how your firm has improved their conditions.

Key Supporters are those such as associates, key partners, staff, and anyone else who is an essential team member. What is unique about them? Some firms will highlight clerkships among associates or tenure among staff to differentiate the team. One recent client of mine mentioned the nine full time marketing staff in their corporate office who help drive the marketing efforts of the partners.

NEXT ARTICLE: How to discuss your firm’s POTENTIAL with your lateral prospect.

Scott Love grows law firms and accelerates attorney careers by conducting partner-level and group searches for law firms and facilitating law firm mergers. He has been a career ‘headhunter’ since 1995 and is a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy. Scott lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, two children, and a toothless rescue dog named Smoky. He can be reached at 202-737-5555. To learn more, please visit

Ed. note: This post is written by Clint Russell at Prestige Legal Search. Check out their Prestige Rewards Program here, or email him here.

Bonuses are in. ‘Tis the season to lateral. Here’s what you need to know to make a move. Warning: some points are fairly obvious, many are overlooked, but all are important.

1. Start the process now.

Making a lateral move takes time. Unless the planets magically align for you, you’re likely looking at a couple-month process, start to finish. While that’s certainly not a bad thing (you should be exhaustive when making a career change), it does mean that you should start the process now if you’re planning on exploring your options after you collect your bonus in the upcoming weeks/months.

This is not to say that you should send your résumé to every recruiter that includes you in an e-mail blast in January. However, now is a good time to start taking all the necessary steps that come before sending out résumés and interviewing. These steps will help ensure that your lateral move will be as painless as possible.

The more organized you approach your search, the easier it will be for a good recruiter to get you what you want. This is typically a slow time of year for both work and lateral opportunities, so it’s a good time to get all your ducks in a row and be ready to take advantage of all the opportunities that interest you in 2014…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “7 Tips To Help You Make The Right Lateral Move”

Chris Urruela-Stauss, a second-year Harvard Law School student, shares his experiences as a 1L Diversity Fellow at Morrison & Foerster. MoFo awards up to 10 fellowships to law students who are members of historically underrepresented groups. For information about 2014 fellowships, visit MoFo’s career site.

What sparked your interest in MoFo?
I participated in the SEO program the summer before law school. At a panel about law firm hiring, Chris Delson explained how he had been converted from a die-hard Californian to a New Yorker by the people he had met at MoFo. As a loyal Californian myself, I was curious what made MoFo so special. After speaking with a MoFo SEO student, I had a great impression of the firm.

What impressed you?
The student’s feeling that she was “at home.” Everyone was approachable, friendly and eager to provide her with opportunities to learn the ropes. That was something that I wanted, and I wasn’t disappointed. From day one, everyone welcomed me. I felt like I’d found a group of friends as much as a group of work colleagues.

Describe some of the projects on which you worked.
On the corporate side, I helped prepare stock option grants for a startup, then had the chance to visit its headquarters. I also was invited to co-present a seminar about entrepreneurship. I rounded things out by preparing a memorandum of understanding for a strategic partnership between two startup non-profits before doing some work with mature companies.

On the litigation side, I researched and helped develop a communications strategy to protect a client and other stakeholders in an FCPA investigation. When I expressed an interest in exploring patent litigation, two partners immediately brought me onto their teams.

What did you most like about your summer experience at MoFo?
The feeling that I wasn’t punching a clock. I was spending time exploring interesting intellectual issues, surrounded by people whom I considered both friends and colleagues.

What did you take away from the experience?
A better appreciation of the dynamics of working at a law firm with teams of varying sizes.

Why are you returning to MoFo as a 2L summer associate?
The people, the atmosphere and the opportunities to do great work kept me interested and engaged. MoFo is a great place to be for the long haul.

Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email:

We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.

General Description:
Exciting and collaborative Technology Transactions group seeking attorney to work on cross-border licensing transactions. This attorney will be responsible for drafting, reviewing, and negotiating a variety of English agreements. Work scope includes game, mobile content, video content, development, marketing, and distribution agreements. This attorney will work closely with internal business teams on matters including privacy, product policies, and open source. Will also conduct legal research and manage outside counsel.

Of course these are just the very basics mentioned above and we are happy to go into all the exciting details about this company and the position with anyone who is interested and qualified. If you are interested, please feel free to reach out to us at and Evan Jowers, Robert Kinney or Yuliya Vinokurova will be happy to set up a phone call with you.

We have other in-house openings and numerous law firm openings in HK / China, Singapore and Tokyo at present. While its certainly not a boom hiring market, there are a number of openings at top firms. It remains a very selective market, but the very well qualified US associate looking to lateral to or within Asia today, especially HK / China, will have choices in M&A, cap markets, project finance, acquisition finance, FCPA / white collar litigation and arbitration. If you are interested in such a move or just would like to discuss the market and what might exist for you for a potential move in the medium term or long term future, or if you would like to discuss what a transfer to Asia would likely be like at your firm, please feel free to reach out to us at any time at We do make a lot of placements of US associates in Asia, but we don’t need to eventually place or even represent all of the great US associates that reach out to us for advice and / or to discuss the Asia markets. We have never tried to convince anyone to start a job search, apply for an opening or accept an offer, but we push for everyone we work with or simply advise to make the most informed decisions that they possibly can when faced with such exciting career options. Its an information and relationship business that we are running here, rather than a typical recruiting practice.

When you talk to a prospective lateral about your firm during their first meeting, the conversation can go deep, sideways, and in circles. There is so much to share and discuss. What path of a dialogue can you follow to get better odds of a favorable conclusion?

Consider this template as a model you can use to discuss your firm’s opportunity. This simplifies the conversation and gives you a mental framework so the discussion is meaningful, relevant and moves things forward.

The Four P’s
In my transition from retained corporate executive search to legal search, I saw that there were many levels of complexity in the move of a partner transitioning from firm A to firm B. In placing an executive in a corporation, it was simple because of the linear nature of relationships in corporations. In a law firm, because of the multi-layered aspect of the interdependent relationships that each partner must manage with others, the dialogue is much more involved.

I distilled this information and systemized it into a simple model of talking points.

When I engage partners in conversations about their openness to move, I use this pattern to keep things simple but on track and relevant, keenly mindful that my goal is to open up the mind of my star prospect to the idea of considering a move. When I bring on a new client and begin advising them on effective growth and recruitingstrategies, I encourage them to use this format as a mental checklist of talking points about their firm’s opportunity during that first meeting. (NOTE: Call them meetings, not interviews. People who are ‘looking’ go on interviews. Partners who are happy but open will ‘take a meeting’ with another firm).

1. Platform
2. Practice
3. People
4. Potential

Platform: Discuss the brand equity of your firm, the geographic footprint, the unique value proposition, and other aspects of your firm as it relates to the big picture. What are you known for? The history of your firm is important, but what holds more relevance is the future strategy and how all the moving parts and people working together can accomplish a collective goal.

This is when you should share your firm’s values, vision and mission. If you are not sure what to say when you discuss this, then get with your firm’s leadership to clarify these talking points. This is a frequently neglected but necessary building block to an organization that can get glossed over because a firm may already have achieved success over multiple generations. But to communicate the true nature of your firm, it needs to be clarified. People want to join a team following a leader who is going places, and this is a leadership issue.

Leadership skills drive growth. Every law firm has partners with good legal skills, but finding law firm leaders with good leadership skills is rare. I know this because I spend my day listening to partners gripe about it. Use that to your advantage in your recruiting strategy. Differentiate yourself from every other vanilla law firm that looks the same as all the others. Spend time learning how to develop your leadership skills because this is attractive to prospective laterals who already have achieved success. Those rock star partners you really want to hire will be motivated by these things. At the core of its being, a law firm is a collective of peers held together by conditional promises. It’s even more critical for a law firm than a company to clarify its values, vision and mission, because nothing else exists to hold the attorneys together except ideals and values, such as loyalty.

Based on my personal observations, the majority of those who are running law firm offices or practice groups have spent most of their careers doing exceptionally well at practicing law and serving clients on legal matters. They have not mastered the core competency of leading large teams effectively. They have not been proactive in their leadership development and are relying on well-intentioned instinct and charisma, which only goes so far. Leadership is a simple concept and is something that must be continuously studied and discussed. For a client, would you try to solve a legal matter that is unfamiliar to you without studying up on it first? That’s the same priority you need to give to your own effectiveness in leadership.

Start by reading books by authors such as John Kotter, Ram Charan, and law firm management consultants like Ed Wesemann. Consider a daily reading habit. Or shorten your commute by listening to leadership books on audio, or even podcasts on leadership and law firm management. Leadership is developed over time and you can always learn more about how to lead because of the complex nature of human dynamics, especially within law firms. If you do this, it will come out in your dialogue with that fresh prospect, and you will tell the story of your firm on a strategic level and weave in meaningful discourse on your firm’s values, vision and mission.

To Be Continued in the next article

Copyright © 2013 Scott Love
Scott Love grows law firms and accelerates attorney careers by facilitating law firm mergers and conducting partner-level recruiting for law firms. He has been a career ‘headhunter’ since 1995 and is a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy.

Scott lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, two children, and a toothless rescue dog named Smoky. He can be reached at 202-737-5555. To learn more, please visit


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Trade In Your Challenges

When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problems of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.

Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.

“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”

With success and expansion came a name change: RPCK Rastegar Panchal. Now, servicing clients across the globe and in many different areas of practice is a reality for Chintan, and the high quality problems have become opportunities.

Maybe it’s time for you to think about trading in your BigLaw career challenges for the high quality challenges of a small firm founder. Contact NexFirm today at 212-292-1000 or at; we’ll help you get started.

The 2013 ATL Holiday Gift Guide

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